Grafton feeder steer and weaner store sale yarded 1413 head of cattle on Thursday with some apprehension that numbers swelling the yards in selling centres all over the north would put downward pressure on prices.
However, there was enough local interest, particularly from areas that have benefited from moisture this season - Nymboida and the lower river, for example - that prices maintained a solid average with the heaviest steer making 210c/kg to bring $1291, topping the sale.
Steers to 400 kilograms, 1003 in total, averaged 192.8 cents a kilogram or $536 (229c/kg and $633 last month) and reached a top of 244.2c/kg and $951.
Steers 400 to 500kg, 93 in total, averaged 230.6c/kg or $1016 (225c/kg and $996 last month) and reached a top of 246.2c/kg and $1168.
Heifers to 540kg, 293 in total, averaged 137.7c/kg or $349 (179c/kg and $484 last month) and topped at 196.2c/kg and $596 which was down on previous sales but up on the rest of the district at this time.
Derek Morgan, with property at Nymoida that benefited from plenty of rain before Christmas, sold Angus and Angus cross feeder steers, 385kg, for 230 to 240c/kg going onto feed through Landmark Toowoomba, and also to DPI's research station at Trenayre.
Mr Morgan bought back into the market, paying 204c/kg for Angus steers, 245kg, from Arnold Mathews of Chambigne.
The Page family's Heifer Station sold Angus weaner calves out of first cross Brahman/ Hereford cows, 276kg for 190c/kg going to Ben Thompson, Glen Innes, who bought a number of calves below $200c/kg.
Adam Chapman, Fineflower, sold Charolais weaner steers out of first cross Brahman/ Hereford cows, 300kg to an average 209c/kg going to Charles and Corinne Mifsud, Southgate.
Mr Chapman sold heifer weaners from the same cross, 267kg, for an average 178c/kg.
By Mr Chapman's accounting a calf costs a producer between 190 to 200c/kg and his average return at Thursday's sale was 195c/kg.
"Retail prices for beef haven't fallen by half," he said. "someone along the beef supply chain is now receiving a substantial share of the revenues from beef sales that used to flow to cattle producers, It's time for some serious critical thinking about the structure of the cattle market."
Taking advantage of those softer prices was volume buyer Landmark Toowoomba, with cattle purchased through Grafton commission buyer Geoff Gillett, filling in for his son David.
Tony McLennan, Nymboida, bought cattle for his own property as well as for his brother Frank, at Tyringham, paying 228c/kg for milk tooth Charolais, 340kg, produced by Tony Paton.
Rob Jefferies, Ulmarra, bought a few heavier steers and will grow them out on winter rye and clover for the Jap Ox market, paying in the order of 200c/kg for Angus, 300kg.
Other buyers included George Hardacre, Central Bucca and Geoff Brown, Couttes Crossing who will grow out those cattle for the feeder market.